The SEMA Show: Customize This!
As members of the customization and vehicle personalization industry are getting fearful of our potential autonomous ‘transportation pod’ society, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) wanted to cement the idea that the personal vehicle will always be here to stay – especially leading into their annual show in Las Vegas. The group commissioned an independent market research study, and the findings are very positive for our future: 16-to-24-year-olds are still interested in their rides, and accessorizing them! According to the study, over a third of accessorizers say they “love cars.” Their vehicles not only help them get from A to B, but they are also an integral part of their social lives. Most would rather give up their phone for a week than their vehicle. Cars are a part of their identity.
Modifying is an exciting creative outlet that lets them express who they are. Larger projects become group projects, and “mods” give them something to talk about with friends. What starts as a fix often turns out better than new. Projects often start as a means to fix something deemed subpar. Uncomfortable seats or a scratch are a great excuse to upgrade to leather or get that paint job they’ve always wanted.
Another takeaway from the survey is that brick-and-mortar is still key for auto parts retail. Although online is important to young accessorizers, in-store is still the preferred way to purchase and pick up small parts. Shoppers benefit from being able to touch and feel the actual products. Moreover, with a helpful salesperson or cashier, they can run the part over to their vehicle to ensure it will fit. But, inspiration is now gained from the Internet. Seeing mods that other people have done on social media and across the online car community gives accessorizers access to things they didn’t know they could do to their car. Learning from others is the best source of inspiration for their next mod. Once the mods become more challenging than what the local auto parts retailer can provide in both equipment and service, our industry can step in and help.